God’s plans don’t always feel wonderful. Sometimes His providence cuts right to the core of our being. Just ask Mary. Mary walked up to the temple with her precious eight day old first-born son, and a stranger approached her. He told this very young mother, who was still sore and hiding a swollen postpartum belly underneath her clothing, that because of this child a sword would pierce her very soul. How could Mary understand what that meant when she looked into the face of her sweet baby with all the hope in the world? How could she have imagined that God’s great plan for this child would cause her so much pain, a heartbreak that probably felt unsurvivable? No, she couldn’t have known. Sometimes God’s plans, as good as they are, as purposeful as they are, as absolutely right and perfect as they are, come with unbelievable pain.
This is why trusting God is so much more difficult and complicated than we like to think. When we hear the words “trust God” we want that to apply to our temporal wants and needs. We want to say to our children, “Trust God to protect you from this illness” or “Trust God to bring you the perfect spouse” or “Trust God to keep our car on the road.” We want to reassure them in this way, to bring them peace when they’re anxious, to paint a picture of God as one who is always doing what we want Him to do. And we should absolutely teach our children that God has the power to do anything and everything that He desires. But our trust in Him has to go so much deeper than the idea that He is only trustworthy when He is doing what we approve of. If we want to show our children that we worship a truly sovereign God, we must teach them to trust Him when He is doing what we don’t understand. When His will involves our suffering, our hardship, our heartache. Will we show them, with our words and through our faithful actions, that we trust that what God chooses to do is good and trustworthy because we know that He is good and trustworthy?
It is so much harder that we thought, this faith. It is so much more gut-wrenching at times than the platitudes and tshirt slogans would lead us to believe. But it is also so much more satisfying, when we can say with all honesty to our children that we don’t know what will happen, but we do know that no matter what happens, God is taking care of things. He does everything with purpose and with the heart of a Father who wants His children to know who He really is.
God doesn’t promise us the kind of protections that we long for. We want to think He would never allow us to get the brain tumor or the deadly virus. We want to tell our children that they won’t face illness or the death of someone they love. But He gives us so much more–the assurance that death is gain. The promise that no one and nothing can ever snatch us out of His hand. The truth that this lifetime is just a flower that is fading more quickly than we realize, and eternity is on the other side. It will be an eternity filled with understanding, with the proof that our hope wasn’t misplaced, that our God is real and good and more everything than we were ever capable of understanding while on this earth. In that forever, all of the things that caused so much pain will look completely different. We will see Him as He is, and we will see all of His purposes as they are, and then we will love and worship Him all the more.
For now, God holds our hand and takes us where we need to go. Will we trust Him with the path ahead? Will we teach our children to trust even when things get dark? Or are we offering them a faith that is contingent on whether God does what seems right to them? I can’t think of a better teaching moment than the one we’re living right now. We may face pain. We may face heartbreak. We may find ourselves or our loved ones in an over-crowded hospital. No matter what comes, I pray we will model a faith that declares in no uncertain terms: Whatever my God ordains is right.